How Would You Feel if Someone Called Your Baby Fat?

A mom recently went on an online tirade about her mother-in-law's nickname for her baby. Some people think referring to an infant as "fat" is a form of endearment, but is it actually acceptable? 

Chubby Baby Chehova/Shutterstock
Fat shaming is never cool—but is it still fat shaming if you're commenting on an infant's chubby cheeks or belly?

That question came up thanks to a recent forum post from a real mom who expressed frustration over her mother-in-law's habit of referring to her baby as "Fat Baby."

"My LO is 6 mths old, and every once in a while, we leave him by my MIL to babysit so hubby and I can have some alone time, and she's great with him. However, she's been saying a couple things that have been getting on my nerves lately," the mother wrote in a post on What to Expect. "Because obesity runs in my family (although I myself am not overweight) I tend to be very careful how I feed my son."

The mother went on to explain that her mother-in-law encouraged her to feed her baby more, and the mother obliged. But then something unexpected happened: The mama overheard her mother-in-law call her child "Fat Baby."

Not surprisingly, the mother wasn't too happy with this nickname. The term "fat" definitely has a pejorative context to it, and developing a nickname in reference to someone's weight is just not an acceptable thing to do—at least for grownups. But does this rule apply to babies?

We think there's a generational component here: Back in the day, it was considered something of a term of endearment to describe a baby as "fat" or "chunky" or "chubby." But these days we're more aware of how important it is to instill body positivity in our children. When is "too early" to start thinking about the damaging effects of comments like these? 

We think it's important to be mindful when talking about someone's body—no matter how young he or she is. And if your child has a weight issue, that should be between you and your child's doctor, and not the source of a nickname. It's a tough issue to navigate, because we don't believe this woman's mother-in-law meant to body shame the baby in any way—but we also feel like if you're uncomfortable with any comments about your baby's weight, it's well within your rights to bring up the issue.

How would you feel if someone called your baby fat—would you let it be, or say something? Do you believe babies can be body shamed?

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